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"Our man at the games" Golden Super Saturday
Well what a day! GOLDEN SUPER SATURDAY!
I was on the afternoon shift - joining thousands of people on their way to the Olympic Park - there is a real atmosphere of expectation, urged on by the very friendly “Gamesmakers”. The face painting, children of all ages – I even spotted a baby not more than a few months old - flags attached to people only too keen to engage you in where they are from together with expressing their vocal support for the individual or team representing their hopes. It’s a “Carnival” – the events are the obvious attraction but many have tickets for the Park which is very much a destination in itself. Along the walkway I also noticed one man with a sign wanting to buy tickets together with another who wanted “used” tickets for his collection – this must be a specialist interest!
We are much better organised at the venue with our duties being well “rotated” so none of us get stuck with the boring bits – also we all do some time on the “stand” - so witness the full drama of one of the games. At “workforce check-in” today we received our next gift – a bronze “gamesmaker” badge – there is now informed speculation in the tea break, that as we are just over half way through the Games, our next free gift may be a silver badge, concluding with gold if we see it through. We also were able to help ourselves to chocolates from one of the Games main sponsors – in fact later in the day we were approached at the venue to finish off the stash.
Although very much stuck in our inner Olympic world we were all tuned into what was happening at the stadium. It is difficult to describe the scale, particularly the noise generated around the Park from this bowl of people. It’s like waves crashing, fast trains rushing by, a concentration of several waterfalls all pushed together – it was this overpowering wave after wave of sound that told us loudly that something exceptional was happening on the track. This was supplemented by the torrent of texts arriving on our mobile phones from friend and family excitingly informing us that yet more gold had been won by the GB team. This collective “joy” at the success of Team GB expressed spontaneously openly with pride is something that is a particular feature of these 2012 Games.
The human face of success – relief with exhilaration – set against real grief at “letting down the wonderful crowd” – are an important part of what is going on at this Olympics. All of us can identify with these feelings – maybe this open expression of what it really feels like is the vital ingredients. Yes, we all like the Gold medals but we are now getting quite mature as an audience quickly recognising the effort, sacrifice the “I gave it my all” being the words which trigger in us the “lump in the throat”. When athletes after winning run to find close family to share in the moment -when wife, child, partner, father, mother, grandparents etc are drawn into the whole mix that all of us can so easily shout–it could have been one of our own! It truly was a wonderful day for Team GB – one colleague observed that “it was nice to win medals in rowing and cycling – but winning on the track is special – the true spirit of the ancient Olympics” - all is genuine endeavour, but I can see that in the eyes of the world that running, jumping and throwing has a universal resonance. This Olympics has all the makings of creating a benchmark for Team GB – the number of medals that are “the first ever won –the first for xyz number of years” will create a confidence that as a nation we can if we organise ourselves gain success. That we are not content with our caricature as “good losers” but can win and win again! But because it’s been a hard journey we will still have the heart to encourage, forgive and congratulate those who have “a go”!
One word about the TV coverage – which has been outstanding - the BBC are doing a great job. I am particularly fond of Gabby at the end of the day – not sure about the “Big Ben” of Gold medals- but it’s a wonderful end of the day summary. Some of the commentary during the live coverage is really variable – sometimes it may be as good to let the pictures speak!
Day off today, back on Monday with only another five shifts to go.
Yinnon Ezra MBE
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